AFR Statement On Financial CHOICE Act
The House Financial Services Committee is preparing to mark up Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act. This bill includes many of the worst legislative ideas put forward by Wall Street lobbyists and their friends since the financial crisis of 2008. To begin with, it would make structural changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its mandate that would take a wrecking ball to the agency’s effectiveness. The bill also takes aim at specific and important CFPB actions to protect the public from abuses by Wall Street banks and by predatory lenders, including rulemakings to rein in the abuses of payday and car-title lenders and curtail the financial industry’s use of forced arbitration clauses that strip consumers of their right to band together against systematic wrongdoing.
Chairman Hensarling’s proposal would also block the implementation of new Department of Labor rules to protect retirement savers against conflicted investment “advice” that costs American families some $17 billion a year; override a Dodd-Frank provision limiting the ability of the big banks and credit-card giants to over-charge merchants on card transactions; repeal the Volcker rule, a key provision of Dodd Frank that tells banks they can’t make risky bets for their own profit with depositor funds; and destroy the effectiveness of the new Financial Stability Oversight Council by cutting its funding, eliminating its authority over shadow banks, and more than doubling the number of its voting members.
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On top of everything else, the Financial CHOICE Act would require financial watchdog agencies to go through an impossible obstacle course of procedural hoops (for example, estimating all the “anticipated direct and indirect effects” of any proposed regulation), and require every significant new rule to gain the explicit advance approval of both houses of Congress. It is hard to imagine these regulators accomplishing much of anything under the battery of obstructions the Hensarling bill would establish.
In sum, the Financial CHOICE Act would be an unprecedented blow to effective oversight of the financial sector and to fairness for consumers, investors, members of the public, and businesses. This is not a serious piece of legislation. It is, however, a sad reminder of the Financial Services Committee’s apparent willingness, under its current leadership, to do Wall Street’s bidding with breathtaking disregard for the costs to consumers and to the safety of the financial system as a whole.
CHOICE Act opposition letters
CHOICE Act opposition letters from advocacy groups:
- Americans for Financial Reform, joined with 16 other organizations including the NAACP, UAW, and Main Street Alliance | September 12, 2016
- The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights | September 12, 2016
- Center for Popular Democracy | September 12, 2016
- Public Citizen – “An Avalanche of Deregulatory Rubbish Threatens to Bury Dodd-Frank” | September 12, 2016
- Center for Economic Justice | September 12, 2016
- Fair Arbitration Now coalition (Public Citizen, National Association of Consumer Advocates, American Association for Justice, Alliance for Justice, and more) – letter and statement | September 12, 2016
- Center for Responsible Lending | September 12, 2016
- Oped, TheHill.com by Senator Dick Durbin, “Jeb Hensarling’s big bank bonanza bill” | September 12, 2016
CHOICE Act opposition letters from business and retailer groups:
- Coalition letter from 407 retailers opposing the repeal of the Durbin amendment contained in H.R. 5983 | September 6, 2016
- National Grocers Association – Independent Grocers Rally to Protect Debit Card Swipe Fee Reform | September 6, 2016
- Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) | September 12, 2016
- National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) – KEY VOTE: Oppose the Financial Choice Act, HR 5983 | September 12, 2016
- Retail Industry Leaders Association | September 12, 2016
- National Restaurant Association | September 12, 2016
- National Retail Federation – e-action urging opposition to any repeals of the Durbin amendment | September 12, 2016
- Oped, TheHill.com: “Merchants ask Congress: why tilt the scales against fair and free markets?” | September 13, 2016